When you visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, of course you’ll want to see lions, tigers, and elephants, but take time to visit some of the zoo’s less familiar species too. In the tropical African rainforest exhibits of Lost Forest, you’ll expect to find gorillas and hippos, but bonobos? Believed to be one of the world’s most rare and intelligent animals, these primates have a fascinating and complex social structures ruled by females. An elevated walkway called Monkey Trails winds you straight through the canopy so you can spot them, along with troops of capuchin monkeys, black-crested mangabeys, and even red-tailed swamp monkeys, all sharing the same habitat.
Perhaps the animal in the Lost Forest that is responsible for the most double-takes is the baribusa. Native to the wetlands and swamps of tiny Indonesian islands—and only those tiny islands—they are sometimes called “pig deer” because of their elongated snouts and the tusks that grow right through them, which can resemble antlers.
In the Northern Frontier area (fittingly situated at the north side of the park), you’ll find enormous polar bears, but also the beautiful arctic fox, which has special adaptions for living in a wintry world, like hair on the bottoms of its paws to help grip on ice. And if the only reindeer you’ve ever seen are the animated kind, prepare for a treat as you spy them right across from the Marsh Aviary, where white-collared kingfishers and storks stand watch over the water. There’s also an exhibit on the rare, nocturnal fishing cat (that’s right, a cat that fishes), native to South and Southeast Asia.
Useful info: On the San Diego Zoo’s website, you can view a map of the zoo, download apps to help you plan tour visit, and find out what the zoo’s hours of operation are.